Monday, May 11, 2015


By William Yaw Owusu
Monday, May 11, 2015

There is a clandestine attempt by elements in the government together with some ruling NDC leading members to stop the Dumsor vigil being organized by some celebrities to protest the current worsening power crisis.

Additionally, while the Ga Traditional Council is trying to use the police to stop the well-publicised vigil on Saturday, May 16, Total Petroleum Ghana Limited who owns On-The-Run fuel station at Legon where popular actress Yvonne Nelson and her colleagues intend to converge for the demonstration has said they would not allow them to use their space for the peaceful exercise.

The University of Ghana whose premises the celebrities have decided to use as converging grounds for the vigil has also said it would not allow them.

President’s Caution
Curiously, President John Mahama’s comment last week on the growing criticism by the celebrities of his government’s inability to handle the protracted electricity crisis, appears to have set the tone for others to mount pressure directly or indirectly on Yvonne Nelson and her colleagues to stop the planned demonstration in its entirety.

The President took to Twitter, a social media platform to say “the division in our politics is bad enough. Let it not spread to our creative industry. Let’s cease the polemics,” a comment which his critics claim is a subtle way of asking the celebrities who are from music and filmmaking not to hit the streets.

The Ga Traditional Council’s ‘excuse’ is that there is currently a ban on noisemaking and therefore the vigil is going to breach on their traditional authority.

A former NDC MP Jonathan Nii Tackie Kommey and a failed Greater Accra Regional Chairman aspirant is spearheading the traditional council’s request as their spokesperson.

He told Joy FM that the council was not going to entertain any activity that would disturb the peace associated with the period of the ban on noise-making, a threat which could compel the police to stop the vigil to avoid any clash.

The former MP said the essence of the ban was to “enable them [Ga people] confer with their maker” and feared the dumsor vigil “will not be in conformity with the ban” even though organisers of the vigil insisted that there will be no need for noise as the protest is a simple and peaceful march with candlelights, lanterns and bobo, depicting the dumsor situation which has made life unbearable.

La Jurisdiction
Interestingly, contrary to the claim of the Ga traditional council, some traditional experts say the University of Ghana area is under the jurisdiction of the La Traditional Council and not Ga Mashie (Ga Traditional Council) and that their ban on noisemaking has not yet even come into force.

It is therefore interesting how Ga Mashie would want the police to stop the vigil which is taking place in another council’s jurisdiction, one expert said.
Total Ghana also said they would not allow the celebrities to use their On-the-run fuel station less than 24 hours after the University of Ghana issued a similar notice.

“Please note that our Company, Total Petroleum Ghana Limited, which is the owner of the said location, has not been contacted for any such programme and would, therefore, request the general public to disregard the announcements running on various media,” Olivier Van Parys, managing director of Total Petroleum Ghana Limited, said in a statement.

Kofi Bentil Fears
Kofi Bentil who is one of the lawyers of the organizers wrote on his Facebook wall that: “Our government people are spending lots of energy trying to stop a simple lawful vigil of concerned citizens. Instead of stopping the terrible energy crisis and dumsor which is killing our people.”

 “What a show of cluelessness? These noises about dumsor are coming from a girl who would make a drum out of the skin of her own mother in order to sound her own praises. You can't get your act together for something as easy as seeking permission to use a venue, yet you would insult people who are running a country? You must not be a genius to know that you need permission to use someone's premises - public or private - for your events,” he wrote.

Diverting attention
However, Editor of Business Finder, Toma Imihere, said the government and its supporters are attempting to divert attention away from the power crisis by labeling the celebrities leading the dumsor campaign as member of the New Patriotic Party (NPP).

He indicated that it was no surprise when some supporters of the NDC accused the celebrities of working for the largest opposition party since the members of pressure group, OccupyGhana, suffered the same fate.

“Yes, they will be tagged but just like in the case of OccupyGhana, we all know that when government is on the defensive, they will definitely try to turn the issue away from the substance,” he said.

“In this case, government and the supporters are simply trying to divert attention from the substance and defend themselves by claiming that there is a political agenda.”

Speaking on Citi FM’sThe Big Issue, Toma Imihere said the celebrities “have every right as a professional grouping to register their complaints. Their argument is that it is affecting their profession and if they are coming from that angle, I think they have every right to do it.”

The President of IMANI Ghana, Franklin Cudjoe on his part pointed out that the celebrities and Ghanaians are quite angry at the government” because of the way the political class come to the table with some explanations – sometimes with even outright insults which is wrong because there must be an admission and this is why I think the issues of policy coherence must come into play.”

“I’m happy President Mahama has stopped giving timelines but we also need to be clear that when you are going to make statements on a very difficult crisis, you’ve got to be sure about what you are really saying.”
The IMANI boss argued that the complaints of the group must be heard because “it’s a different crop of voices which I think ought to be heard.”

“The shenanigans about venue; probably they should have done their homework quite well but I think the very is really in every home that is experiencing dumsor.”

The vigil which is part of the #DumsorMustStop campaign is being organised by award-winning movie actress Yvonne Nelson and colleagues such as Sarkodie, Lydia Forson, Ama K. Abebrese, DKB, Van Vicker, EL, Kwaw Kese, Efya, D-Black, Confident Haugen, Nicky Sammona and many others.

A lot of Ghanaians have also signed up to join the vigil which will take place around the University of Ghana and that appears to have ruffled the government of the day.

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